Last night Fulham successfully gained promotion to the Premier League for the 2020/21 season. While not the most exciting addition to the league you still must give credit where its due.
Most people would have preferred their opponents last night Brentford to gain promotion. For the fact that it would be their first time in the Premier League. Along with that fact they have had a fantastic season and have a new state of the art stadium.
Scott Parker Masterplan
However, Fulham had an excellent performance last night in the Play Off final. A lot of credit must go to Fulham boss Scott Parker. He set up to completely nullify the treats of this season’s top scorers Brentford.
It was a surprisingly solid and compact performance by Fulham. One most pundits didn’t see coming. It worked and Fulham kept Brentford key men like Ollie Watkins and Mohamed Said Benrahma extremely quiet.
Fulham took a step away from their usual 4-3-3 formation. Instead opting for a 4-2-3-1 formation to try and smother Brentford.
There was also an unlikely hero on the night Fulham left back Joe Bryan. He opened the scoring in extra time. Bryan caught out Brentford goalkeeper David Raya with a long-range free kick beating him at his near post. This was another genius stroke by Scott Parker. As he claimed it was planned due to them noticing Raya always high positioning from free kicks.
Two minutes before time Bryan finished off a lovely team move to put the game to bed. A late consolation goal for Brentford was too little to late to deny Fulham promotion to the Premier League.
It was always going to be a close game. Fulham finished the season in 4th place level on 81 points with 3rd place Brentford.
It was simply the tactics of Fulham that won them the game last night. Along with the players implementing those tactics so well. It will be interesting to see if they will stick to this more regimented style or go back to their original attacking ways when they return to the Premier League.
They will join newly promoted Leeds United and West Brom Albion in the Premier League next season. Bar Leeds United it isn’t the freshest faces arriving into the league. Both Fulham and West Brom have had plenty of recent Premier League experience. With West Brom getting the reputation of being a yoyo club.
More Than A Flying Visit This Time?
Fulham have been in the league as recent as the 2018/19 season. Gaining promotion on their first attempt.
They will need to be a completely different side this time around if they want to have a lengthy stay in the league.
Ahead of the 2018/19 season Fulham spent an eye watering £100 million on new players. Crazy money for a newly promoted side. Due to their big spending many believed they would easily stay in the league. However, they were relegated with five games remaining.
They also had three managers during this season. Killing any chance, they had of keeping some sort of consistency as a club. Scott Parker was the last manager out of the three and of course remains in the hotseat.
What Do They Need To Stay Up?
The key word for next season will be consistency. They will need to make some improvements to the squad like every newly promoted club. But brining in too much to soon like last time isn’t the way forward for Fulham. They’ll need to keep the nucleus of their current squad and add to it. They have a solid foundation now they don’t want to pull that down and start building on sand.
Sheffield United have proved this season that you don’t need a team of superstars to achieve. They added to their tight knitted squad well and certainly reaped the rewards this season. This will be a blueprint Fulham should look at for next season.
They have a good young manager in Parker and some good players. There seems to be a good togetherness that will serve them well. Adding in big names will only compromise that.
Parker is already showing good signs that he can succeed as a top manager. His willingness to change his tactics when needed and not be stubborn is a trait he will need next season.
While its great to see clubs come up and play an exciting brand of football, they don’t tend to have a long life in the top tier. Look at Norwich this season and Blackpool in the 2010/11 season as two of many examples.
Fulham will need to know when to change up their tactics depending on the opposition and the game. This is what gave the likes of Stoke City a long stay in the Premier League. Same with Burnley who are now a regular fixture of the league.
Make Craven Cottage An Asset
One asset that Fulham have that they didn’t use at all last time in the league is Craven Cottage. The home of Fulham is somewhat of a throwback sitting on the banks of the River Thames. They lost far to often at home during their last Premier League spell.
While Fulham aren’t known for having the most rambunctious crowds their ground could be a big asset. It’s got the old school unique feel with the Cottage in the corner and poles still in some stands. Most importantly its tight and compact. This can be used to squeeze the life out of teams.
If the crowd isn’t going to be intimidating the players should. Make it an awkward place to come that teams dread going to. If they can turn Craven Cottage into a fortress it could easily help their chances of staying in the Premier League. If they implement a similar style of play from last night into their home games, it will be a tough place to go. It won’t be the most exciting to watch but it could help them stay up.
While its easy to say all this but only time will tell. The Premier League returns on the second weekend of September. The fight for survival starts here for Fulham and others. They have a good young manager at the helm. With some new additions they could once again become more than a one season visitor in England’s top tier.